Congratulations, you’ve been invited for an interview! That means the employer has seen something in your resume that matches the requirements of the job you’ve applied for. The next step is to build on that initial impression during your interview. Attending your first interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, so we’ve put together our five golden rules to help reduce your anxiety levels:
Timekeeping: Plan your journey in advance and leave plenty of time for unexpected delays. Aim to arrive early and find a quiet space such as a nearby coffee shop to review your application and your interview notes. If you’re traveling by car and you’re unsure of the route, take a trial run a few days before. Arriving late suggests a lack of preparation and starts you off on the back foot.
Dress professionally: While some companies, such as some tech companies, operate with more relaxed rules, our advice is to stick to formal business wearing neutral colors. We may be stating the obvious but wear clothes that you are comfortable in, shoes you can walk in and keep accessories to a minimum. First impressions count.
Do your research: Employers are impressed by candidates who can demonstrate their interest in a vacancy with evidence that they have done their homework. What are the company’s values? How does it separate itself from the competition? Is it a national or global organization? How long has the brand been established? A good starting point is the company website, press releases and their social media presence. Check their Facebook pages, LinkedIn presence and Twitter feed for recent updates.
Understand your strengths: Prior to your interview, take a good look at the job description again. Identify the accomplishments and experience in your own resume that are a good fit for the key requirements of the job. These are the strengths that will need to be highlighted during your interview. It’s a good idea to practice your answers to key questions in advance. If in doubt, ask a friend to take part in an interview role play to enable you to hone your responses.
Prepare a list of questions: At the end of your interview, the hiring manager will normally give you the opportunity to ask your own questions about the vacancy. Prepare a list of around half a dozen relevant questions as some will naturally be answered during the course of your interview. Some great questions to ask an employer include “What are the career development opportunities with this position?”, “What are the biggest challenges the successful candidate will face in the first three months of this role?”, “What characteristics do your most successful employees share?” and so on. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your ambition and forward thinking.
Bonus Tip: If this is a job you really want, always follow up with a note thanking the hiring manager for their time and reiterating your interest in the role. A thank you letter can make the difference between a job offer and rejection, especially if it’s a close call between you and another candidate.